Sense and Nonsense on Mass Health Care

The Massachusetts legislature recently passed a bill aiming to (as the Wall Street Journal puts it) "obtain universal health-care coverage in their state." If you're like me, your first thought when you see the word "universal" is: Klingons, too?

But other people have more serious thoughts. Arnold Kling, for one, points to his WSJ on-ed column which begins:

The elected leaders of Massachusetts have come up with a novel solution for the vexing problem of paying for health care: abolish the laws of arithmetic.
Needless to say, Arnold's not impressed. Nor is Don Boudreaux, who quotes much of Arnold's article, adds the valuable insight that it's yet another example of faith-based government:
Those with a faith in government -- as well as the secular priests who minister to them (politicians) -- continually commit what science writer Matt Ridley calls "the reverse naturalistic fallacy": inferring an "is" from and "ought." Those who commit this fallacy believe that if something ought to be true, then it is true.
Shawn Macomber is also skeptical, and is probably the only one covering the issue that makes the critical link to the movie The Lost Boys. For fairness, he points to Ronald Bailey's Reason article sympathetic to mandatory coverage; also to Michael Tanner's recent Cato Policy Analysis, which deems mandated coverage to be a "slippery slope" to a government-run health care system. Shawn feels that Tanner has the more convincing argument here, and it's hard for me to disagree.

Oh, and the "nonsense" promised in the title? Always easy to find at the Huffington Post. Dr. Peter Rost reads the New York Times article on the legislation, and has some Serious Thoughts on the "universal" concept:

But as is often the case with these situations universal healthcare in the U.S. is very different from universal healthcare in Europe. In Europe it means that the government provides your healthcare. Period. In the U.S. it means that the government forces you to provide your own coverage.
Bastiat wrote "The state is the great fiction by which everybody seeks to live at the expense of everybody else." Dr. Rost believes that fiction. Unfortunate that he's far from alone.

Last Modified 2006-04-08 5:09 PM EDT